Stewardship: Automatic for the People!
St. Augustine Church is the spiritual home to 1,300 families in Elkridge, Maryland. Founded in 1844, it is one of the oldest and most vibrant parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Part of a growing nationwide trend, St. Augustine Church recently launched an electronic giving program for parishioners, allowing them to forego the use of envelopes and have their offertory giving debited directly from their checking account. Programs like this are the future of stewardship. They save valuable time and financial resources while allowing churches to more accurately forecast income.
Six months after the program launched enrollment was stuck at 20 families – a mere 1.7 percent of the parish. Knowing the full benefits of this program are only realized when a more significant portion of the parish participates; St. Augustine’s decided to call upon MDG.
Working in chorus with the pastor and staff, MDG designed a six-week program to promote the benefits of enrollment and encourage every parish family to participate. Stewardship is a call to action – a shared responsibility that advances God’s work on Earth. Accordingly, MDG helped craft a message to highlight the benefits of this new way to experience parish stewardship. MDG simplified the enrollment form, created incentives for participation, and with the pastor’s help – made the whole process fun.
In just six weeks, enrollment increased 1,700 percent. By the end of the program, total parish enrollment had gone from 1.7 percent to 29 percent. Families enrolling in the program averaged a $450 increase in their annual giving to the parish. Of the 320 new families to enroll, 67 were from the lower quartile of donors and 30 had never previously used their offertory envelopes.
The successful completion of this program not only exceeded the parish’s goal of enrolling 250 new families, but it yielded an increase of 19 percent in annual offertory giving.